One of the challenges of living on a yacht is the confined small space called crew cabins we all have to live in. Bunk beds, one small bathroom, and a closet the size of a school locker is all we get.
When I started in yachting, I showed up with a decent-sized suitcase and a backpack. Most of it I never touched since crew spend most of the time in uniform. All I really needed was a couple of my favorite shirts, some clothes to go out, stuff for the beach and something to sleep in. There’s always a chance to buy new and lovely things at every port. I left my first yacht with more than I came with.
A couple tips for people just getting started in yachting: Pack light, fitting all belongings in one soft-sided duffel bag; bring a hard drive to back up the thousands of photos off of smartphones and laptops.
I was given one of the smallest cabins onboard. Organization skills go a long way when living onboard a yacht. My roommate and I tried a curtain rod to hang up a closet organizer to put more stuff away. I rolled my clothes to make more space and to fit more.
We also got foldable boxes to put our gym/random equipment in such as boxing gloves, protein powder, snorkel gear, etc. Every little bit of organization helps.
Being in close quarters with another person can be quite a challenge. Respecting others and doing things in a fair way make the job better. We used charts to show who cleans the room or bathroom each week. It worked great. I think they should be mandatory on every boat.
With working long hours, there are times we just need a few quiet moments in our own rooms to relax and unwind from the crazy work days. My roommate and I took turns giving each other alone time in our cabin, which worked out great to decompress and talk to family members or friends.
Having a break from people onboard is hard — you have to work for it — but it’s necessary to keep tensions at bay.
Besides trying to squeeze in all our belongings and juggle some personal time below deck, another struggle about the tiny spaces is accidentally banging into doors, counters, tables and people. It’s fun when under way, too. Balancing becomes a priority skill to learn.
The spaces may be small, people may disagree, but the beauty of yachting is that it brings people together from all over the world. Bruises come and go, but our “sea family” can stay forever.
Melissa McMahon is a stew from Long Island, N.Y., who loves to travel at sea (www.longislandmermaid.com). Comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.